Russia and the West…..

“The guard is tired.” With that simple phrase, the newly installed Bolshevik regime in Russia dismissed the duly elected Constituent Assembly in January 1918. And, one might say, so started Russia’s century-long interference in elections and electoral outcomes. In his new book Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference (Knopf, 2020), David Shimer narrates in meticulous but page-turning detail a century of covert electoral interference, by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and continuing to this day with a focus on post-Soviet Russia’s efforts to affect US politics. His account of the …

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Heretical views!

Managing a portfolio based on cashflows? Heresy! Well, maybe not. Others are also making arguments similar to mine in Getting Back to Business. See Jim Garland’s 2019 CFA Institute Research Foundation Brief, introduced by Laurence Siegel. Thanks to Will Goetzmann for the link here .      

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Random Book Project #3: The Sinews of American Commerce (1941)

Is it acceptable to post about something other than the social and political crises wracking our nation at the present moment? Might anything less than 100% devotion to a pressing cause–whatever that cause may be–be considered a hostile act?  I hope not; I believe not. We entered this crisis period with our individual interests, our individual histories. They did not cease to exist even though they may be  overshadowed at the moment. Continuing to pursue them does not entail thinking any less of the issues dominating the news today. So I am going forward with what some may consider a …

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The Russian state is back….

The Russian state is back. That may not be a big surprise to Russia watchers. The degree to which it is a KGB state, however, is documented in great detail in Catherine Belton‘s new book Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2020). Certain elements of the KGB were playing a “long game” as early as the 1980s and saw the need for an alternative to the sclerotic late Soviet system. And they were going to be part of that post-Soviet regime. Fast forward 20 years later, these security and intelligence officials …

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Barron’s conversation about dividend investing

A conversation with Barron’s Lawrence Strauss and Lauren Rublin on dividend investing in the current economic and financial climate.  The replay should be “free” but you may have to register with Barron’s to hear it. https://tinyurl.com/ya5apobb Note: The views expressed here are those of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of his employer. Nothing written here should be construed as investment advice. Consult your investment advisor for specific recommendations. 

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Another battle in the neverending war between clarity and confusion….

A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal starts off with a promising title, “Why Many People Misunderstand Dividends, and the Damage This Does.” June 7, 2020 . That is most certainly true. After nearly two decades helping to manage dividend portfolios, I can say that even institutional investors and pension fund consultants still seem to trip over the basic math of dividend investing. Unfortunately the newspaper article only adds to the confusion when the author, an academic, asserts that “Paying dividends doesn’t benefit investors, because a dividend of $1 simply reduces the stock price by $1—just as withdrawing from …

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You mean big business is good? Tyler Cowen says yes.

You mean big business is good, contributes to our general welfare, and is not generally guilty–with notable exceptions–of all of the charges made against it?  That’s the argument libertarian economist Tyler Cowen makes in his book Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero (St. Martins, 2019) Most NBN listeners will raise an eyebrow to that claim, but most of those same NBN listeners are up for a good back-and-forth on the virtues and demerits of our market system. And to that end, being familiar with Cowen’s arguments–made in this book and his many other publications and platforms–is very useful.  The shift …

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Random Book Project: Episode 1

I’m launching something I call the Random Book Project. Its purpose is to give additional “life” to some of the books that I have collected over the years and are gathering dust on my shelves. These books are disappearing in the digital age. They are left in a decreasing number of public and university libraries, before they are ultimately “de-accessioned.” Some hardbacks end up as color coordinated staging in steak houses and boutique hotels. The Random Book Project attempts to give these books at least a minimal digital presence for works that Project Gutenberg and Google Books will likely skip. …

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Are the Generals fighting the last war?

In Dealing with the Russians (Polity, 2019), Andrew Monaghan argues that Western policy makers are using an outdated Cold War model of ideology, language and institutions, which is wholly unsuited for understanding, engaging, and countering where necessary Russia in the 21st century. One of England’s leading experts on Russia, Monaghan argues Western policy makers need to let go of the past Cold War rhetoric and come up with modern tools to manage the current stage of the three-century long “Russia and the West” policy conundrum. Listen to the New Books Network interview here.  

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